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mightymezzo73 in road_food

The End of the Road

This is a story about food eaten at the literal end of the road.

For Labor Day weekend in 2005, my husband and I decided to take a trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. For those of you not from Michigan, the U.P. is so different from the rest of Michigan it is akin to an entirely separate state. Indeed, many residents of the U.P. (aka "Yoopers") would like to secede from Michigan and form their own state called "Superior." But I digress.

Following the advice of a good friend of mine who is also a native Yooper, John and I traveled all the way to the very, very tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Past Copper Harbor, past Fort Wilkins State Park, past the end of the pavement, out beyond civilization to the end of the earth.

The narrow, rutted dirt road wound through trees sheathed in moss and lichens. Branches scraped against the side of the car.

After what felt like an eternity, we emerged into a tiny clearing with a small beach. We had made it to the very tip of the peninsula. The only thing in front of us was Lake Superior as far as the eye could see. The beach was made of small, rounded iron-bearing pebbles eroded from the local bedrock.

We spent some time wading in the shallows collecting pebbles. This beach was too small for camping, and there was already another group of people there. We chatted amicably with them and they told us that back up the road, the other fork would take us to another area suitable for camping. We backtracked, found the fork in the road, and followed it. Soon we came to a large, clear grassy area overlooking the lake from a short height. This was the place. Delighted, we set up camp and soon had a fire going. We sat in our camp chairs and just looked out at the vast gray expanse of Lake Superior. The low island in the background is Manitou Island with the Gull Rock Lighthouse visible as a small white dot on the right side.

We ate smoked whitefish paté on water crackers while feeding the campfire. Once it had formed a good hot bed of coals, I unwrapped the New York strip steaks we had carried with us from Chelsea. I rubbed them with our favorite steak rub, Texas Dry Rub, which I had put in a little container. I fired up our camp stove and set a pot of water to boil for the sun-dried tomato and basil risotto. The beer was flowing and the sun was setting. The steaks went on the grill and the risotto simmered.  Finally we ate, the steak seared and crusty on the outside and pinkly medium-rare on the inside, the risotto rich and creamy. The only sound other than the crackle of the fire was the soft washing of the waves against the rocks below us. I felt like we could have been the only, the last people left on earth.

Finally, the sun went down in a blaze of glory behind the trees to the west.

Much later on, during the middle of the night, I woke up and, intending to go outside to pee, stuck my head out of the tent. Instantly all thoughts of going to the bathroom were forgotten as I was struck speechless by the sight of the northern lights all around us. In a breathless near-panic I shook John awake and said, "You have to see this!" I had never seen the northern lights before. I had always thought that the still pictures or video I had seen were exaggerating, that it couldn't possibly look like that. I can honestly say now that that is exactly what the northern lights look like. All that flashing, ripping, flowing, undulating light. It was like a big green sheet in constant motion all across the sky. We actually sat in our camp chairs in our pajamas and watched the light show for a good 30 minutes. It was spectacular. I can't describe it adequately with mere words. It remains one of the most unforgettable and wonderful things I have ever seen.

Our time there at the edge of the Keweenaw is one of my most treasured road trip memories. I feel so fortunate I was able to visit that wild and lonely place. It took a lot of work to get there but the reward was worth it. I know this story isn't really about a bricks-and-mortar place one can visit for a meal; the tip of the Keweenaw is strictly a do-it-yourself kind of location. However, if you're willing and your car is able (the road is impassable to all but four-wheel-drive, high-ground-clearance vehicles), this is the place to be if you want to be totally alone.


Pretty...I'd like to go up there sometime. I was wondering when people were going to post on here again...
So that's where your icon came from.

I've never been that far north in the UP, though I've always wanted to.

Thanks, Sarah. Sometimes the best place to discover real experiences is miles from civilization. And Keweenau is definitely miles from anywhere.
Yes, my icon picture came from the picture of the pebbles. Speaking of pictures, is it possible to widen the text field? In the picture where you can only see my feet there's a lot more on the side that got cut off.
I'm not terribly familiar with how to widen the text field--my journal has always been wide enough so I never bothered to figure out how--but I'll try to make some sense of it and see what I can do.
Oh yes, that's beautiful :-) I've never been to that part of the country, but yes. Dinner sounds most excellent too. In fact I grabbed a copy of the rub recipe...

Thanks for sharing!

October 2007

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